Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Digger Wasp

At the weekend I found this funny faced chap loitering around our sweet peas. It seemed to have a flight route around the border often returning to this leaf. Unusually for an insect of this type, it had a neck and even looked up at me when i took its photo! The massive eyes gave it a comical expression that I had not seen before.

A short sweep of the internet, found it to be a likely Ectemnius cephalotes, a Digger wasp that nests in dead logs or stumps. I have a pile of such nice habitat only a few feet from this fellows hunting path. It feeds on flies and hoverflies apparently.

A nice, medium sized wasp, a new one on me.

White Rumper

After work this evening I popped down to Druridge Budge Hide to look for the White-rumped Sandpiper that has been kicking around the bay over the last week.

It didnt take too long to relocate it feeding along the muddy edges of the field flashes. A nice cold grey little wader and quite easy to pick from the Dunlin once a clear view could be had. These used to be mega in the county but seem almost annual these days.

Also around the scrapes were 1 Little Stint, 40+ Dunlin, 2 Ruff, 1 Spotted Redshank, 50+ Black-tailed Godwit, 20+ Snipe, 2 Garganey and a male Marsh Harrier .

As the wind got up and the light dropped making the birds on the field into blackish silhouettes, it was time for tea. A good couple of hours out...

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Anti-social Media.

Once again I have found myself neglecting the blog. Usually I have some reason or another, been busy, other stuff to do etc but lately there is a more sinister reason for this lack of entries. Social Media. Or should I say, Anti-social Media. I spend probably hours gazing at digital imagery on the phone.

In 2006 when I began this blog, I did it as a diary rather than some form of written social statement. I was never going to push the boundaries of anything. Then, some years later,  came Twitter. I like Twitter, you can link with loads of like minded people who you don't know, but they become 'pen pals' if you like. News comes through as it happens, info is passed around and it is like reading a bespoke magazine just for you that never ends.

Remember that bit. It never ends.

When it came to Facebook, I always resisted the connection saying it was just frippery, boring stuff with endless pics of people's meals and cats, but my friend John was on it and not on Twitter so I joined to see what he was posting. So I could see his photos and stuff.

Then smart phones became ever more seductive. Info on the go, at anytime, at a press of a screen. No longer would you be out of touch with mates you'd not seen for ages or people who have moved abroad, no, its like they live next door, or even in the same house! You can join groups and get advice on things you know little about, you can troll those you disagree with too.

This is where all the time goes. I know it and most of you know it too. We hate it. We all think that this social media mullarkey is a right old pain in the arse so why is it so prevalent in our lives? I cant answer that one, but lately I have considered jacking them all in, but cant do it. What if I miss something? Not someones breakfast or cream tea but something important to me, like my nephew's school play or nice pics of the rare bird I have just been to see ( or dipped).

As I have mentioned earlier, this stuff never ends, that's what irritates. There is no escape or down time, because that too will drive you mad. Its like an addiction.

What is there to do about it?

I don't know. I'd like to trim it back and keep my blog updated more, at least that's more writing rather than throw away commenting. I think. I'd like to read books more rather than the inane sometimes aggravating comments on the small screen too.

If you read this, and are not too busy on your phone, leave me a comment, telling me what you do, or try to do with this bloody awful demon in our lives...

Normal service WILL be resumed!


Monday, July 31, 2017

Autumn creeps...

I've just been looking through my recent photos and can't find much to post about. They all seem to be moths! Despite a few identification cock-ups, this has been a decent season for new species in the garden, and August always has potential for more.

Meanwhile, sitting counting moths, more groggy than a zombie on methadone due to too many late nights and early starts, autumn sneaks up. Yesterday we had a short trip down to Cresswell for breakfast  er, to see the two adult Curlew Sandpipers on the causeway scrape and very nice they were too. Alongside them were 80+ Dunlin, a Common Sandpiper and 500+ Sand Martins.

Up at Amble, the Coquet Estuary held 6 summer plumaged Knot, 22 Black tailed Godwit and 30+ Dunlin, but the oddest thing occurred as I took Bunty out before work this morning.

Not rare, but certainly scarce these days, a nice Whinchat was on the roadside fence line just up from our village. A taste of things to come perhaps...we'll see....


Saturday, July 22, 2017

and another....

Speaking of new garden moths earlier, another has just been id'd!

The smallest of tiny moths in the trap this morning, I mis-identified as Phyllonorycter geniculella, a species I have had once before, in 2015. Tom Tams, County Recorder has just given me a lesson on why it is actually a much rarer Northumberland moth, P. acerifoliella !

This is not only a first for VC68 it is also the first adult to be taken in the whole of Northumberland VC67 and 68, the other 18 records were hatched from leaf mines taken near Newcastle in 2013.

These things could be much commoner really. They are tiny. About the size of one of those little Thrips or corn flies that you can get in your eye, maybe 3mm nose to tail, so could be easily overlooked.

Still, they all count, so I'm well pleased.

Phyllonorycter acerifoliella

And still they come...

I have been moth trapping on a regular basis here in our garden at Howick now since August 2009, almost 8 years, but unlike birds, the list is showing no signs of drying up.

2017 has so far been quite a good year for new arrivals, and I have long since stopped trying to second guess the next new species to appear.

This year I have gotten 'second wind' with the trap after last years slightly slower pace, and each morning I look forward to getting up half an hour earlier than I need to, taking my coffee, notebook and terrier out onto the seat below the kitchen window and sifting through the black bucket of jewels.

The new faces this year so far are...

16.008 Yponomeuta sedella
16.014 Pseudoswammerdamia combinella
35.141 Teleiodes vulgella
37.044 Coleophora discordella
45.043 Adaina microdactyla                       Hemp Agrimony Plume
49.022 Ptycholoma lecheana
49.087 Acleris literana
49.307 Rhyacionia pinivorana                       Spotted Shoot Moth
70.150 Eupithecia linariata                               Toadflax Pug
70.198 Lobophora halterata                       Seraphim
73.036 Acronicta alni                                       Alder Moth
73.100 Chilodes maritima                               Silky Wainscot
73.272 Papestra biren                                       Glaucous Shears

What a motley collection. Glaucous Shears and Silky Wainscot on the same square metre of ground. One moth of high moorland, the other of flat southern reedbeds. I wonder how they made it here? Regardless, these and the ones to come are the reason why I spend all summer wandering around in a daze, after too many late nights and early mornings. Here's to the next one...

Friday, July 07, 2017

Back again...

Well that was a right old trial... As usual our BT Broadband went off without notice leaving us for 10 days without any connectivity. Its not the waiting for it to be fixed that is the issue, its the lies, false promises and downright neglect of all customer care from BT. What a shower they are... Any way, I'm back.

Last week a few decent birds cropped up locally, with two White winged Black Terns, a showy Red Kite and a Corn Bunting from god knows where. There was an adult Pectoral Sandpiper too but it hid away when I was on site.

In between those, a few butterfly sorties around us was quite good with several Large Heath and up to 9 Small Pearl Bordered Fritillaries being the highlight.

Here are a few shots from our 'dark spell' and I should be back on track after that...

White winged Black Tern at Druridge.

Corn Bunting at Longhoughton Steel. My last was here in 2006 the very first post on this blog.

Red Kite at Druridge, I've seen many more WWBTerns in the county than these...

A nice Large Heath, a scarce butterfly of boggy moorland.

Sunday, June 18, 2017


There has been a paucity in blog posts this month for one reason or another. Early on we were away to our usual hidey hole, Allt Beithe, near Acharacle, Ardnamurchan.

The weather was a bit disappointing but we had a couple of good sunny days, one write off day and the rest were 'mixed'. I took the moth trap this time and it gave some great highlights, with a few new species for me. Here are some pics from that week away...

This is Allt Beithe, hidden away in thickly wooded gardens....

The drive way over the moss...

The moss...

Looking north towards Kentra Bay with Eigg and Rhum beyond.
The moth trap on the moss...

Ardnamurchan. Nowhere like it...

A day trip to Tobermory on Mull is a bit of a tradition now...

Sunset from the garden.
Our only Eagle of the week, this imm White tailed flew low over the car near Kilchoan...

It took until our last night before we caught up with two Pine Martens. This one came to the bird table.
The local and rare Chequered Skipper at Ariundle Oakwoods...
Large Heath of the form 'scotica' just came on the wing at the end of our stay.

Small Pearl Bordered Fritillary along the track to the cottage.
The Saxon, one of my most wanted moths was captured on our first night!

The Beautiful Brocade.

The Clouded Buff is anything but...
And all too soon our week was over and work beckons...

Friday, June 02, 2017

May Moths

Our garden moths for May...

  Dark Dagger / Grey Dagger (Acronicta tridens/psi)  1
03.002  Common Swift (Korscheltellus lupulina)  7
12.016  Cork Moth (Nemapogon cloacella)  1
15.014  a moth (Gracillaria syringella)  2
16.014  a moth (Pseudoswammerdamia combinella)  1
18.001  Diamond-back Moth (Plutella xylostella)  5
19.007  Cocksfoot Moth (Glyphipterix simpliciella)  102
28.009  White-shouldered House-moth (Endrosis sarcitrella)  11
32.017  a moth (Agonopterix arenella)  3
37.063  a moth (Coleophora albicosta)  1
38.004  a moth (Elachista argentella)  4
38.037  a moth (Elachista canapennella)  2
41.002  a moth (Blastobasis adustella)  1
45.043  Hemp Agrimony Plume (Adaina microdactyla)  1
48.001  a moth (Anthophila fabriciana)  5
49.028  a moth (Syndemis musculana)  5
49.031  Timothy Tortrix (Aphelia paleana)  1
49.039  Light Brown Apple Moth (Epiphyas postvittana)  1
49.091  a moth (Pseudargyrotoza conwagana)  2
49.166  a moth (Celypha lacunana)  6
49.194  a moth (Bactra lancealana)  1
49.214  a moth (Ancylis badiana)  4
49.265  a moth (Eucosma cana)  2
49.292  a moth (Notocelia cynosbatella)  4
49.307  Spotted Shoot Moth (Rhyacionia pinivorana)  1
62.001  Bee Moth (Aphomia sociella)  8
63.025  Small Magpie (Anania hortulata)  16
63.057  Garden Pebble (Evergestis forficalis)  1
63.064  a moth (Scoparia ambigualis)  1
65.007  Chinese Character (Cilix glaucata)  1
65.013  Common Lutestring (Ochropacha duplaris)  1
69.003  Poplar Hawk-moth (Laothoe populi)  16
69.016  Elephant Hawk-moth (Deilephila elpenor)  1
70.049  Garden Carpet (Xanthorhoe fluctuata)  5
70.053  Flame Carpet (Xanthorhoe designata)  3
70.054  Silver-ground Carpet (Xanthorhoe montanata)  36
70.061  Common Carpet (Epirrhoe alternata)  24
70.066  Shoulder Stripe (Earophila badiata)  2
70.067  Streamer (Anticlea derivata)  1
70.079  Spruce Carpet (Thera britannica)  3
70.081  Grey Pine Carpet (Thera obeliscata)  4
70.094  Small Phoenix (Ecliptopera silaceata)  3
70.095  Red-Green Carpet (Chloroclysta siterata)  3
70.097  Common Marbled Carpet (Dysstroma truncata)  23
70.100  Green Carpet (Colostygia pectinataria)  2
70.103  Water Carpet (Lampropteryx suffumata)  4
70.132  Rivulet (Perizoma affinitata)  7
70.133  Small Rivulet (Perizoma alchemillata)  1
70.137  Grass Rivulet (Perizoma albulata)  1
70.141  Double-striped Pug (Gymnoscelis rufifasciata)  2
70.156  Brindled Pug (Eupithecia abbreviata)  1
70.157  Oak-tree Pug (Eupithecia dodoneata)  4
70.160  White-spotted Pug (Eupithecia tripunctaria)  2
70.171  Ochreous Pug (Eupithecia indigata)  1
70.183  Common Pug (Eupithecia vulgata)  24
70.184  Mottled Pug (Eupithecia exiguata)  3
70.190  Grey Pug (Eupithecia subfuscata)  1
70.200  Yellow-barred Brindle (Acasis viretata)  2
70.222  Brown Silver-line (Petrophora chlorosata)  5
70.224  Scorched Wing (Plagodis dolabraria)  2
70.226  Brimstone Moth (Opisthograptis luteolata)  5
70.237  Early Thorn (Selenia dentaria)  1
70.238  Lunar Thorn (Selenia lunularia)  12
70.240  Scalloped Hazel (Odontopera bidentata)  15
70.252  Peppered Moth (Biston betularia)  6
70.279  White-pinion Spotted (Lomographa bimaculata)  1
70.280  Clouded Silver (Lomographa temerata)  6
71.012  Iron Prominent (Notodonta dromedarius)  1
71.018  Lesser Swallow Prominent (Pheosia gnoma)  4
71.020  Pale Prominent (Pterostoma palpina)  2
71.021  Coxcomb Prominent (Ptilodon capucina)  3
71.025  Buff-tip (Phalera bucephala)  2
72.001  Herald (Scoliopteryx libatrix)  1
72.019  Buff Ermine (Spilosoma lutea)  22
72.020  White Ermine (Spilosoma lubricipeda)  41
72.022  Muslin Moth (Diaphora mendica)  6
73.001  Spectacle (Abrostola tripartita)  6
73.015  Silver Y (Autographa gamma)  2
73.032  Nut-tree Tussock (Colocasia coryli)  15
73.092  Mottled Rustic (Caradrina morpheus)  2
73.102  Brown Rustic (Rusina ferruginea)  1
73.113  Angle Shades (Phlogophora meticulosa)  1
73.114  Small Angle Shades (Euplexia lucipara)  5
73.156  Clouded-bordered Brindle (Apamea crenata)  3
73.156  Clouded-bordered Brindle [melanic form] (Apamea crenata ab. combusta)  1
73.158  Rustic Shoulder-knot (Apamea sordens)  27
73.201  Pale Pinion (Lithophane socia)  1
73.241  Pine Beauty (Panolis flammea)  1
73.242  Clouded Drab (Orthosia incerta)  12
73.244  Common Quaker (Orthosia cerasi)  7
73.247  Powdered Quaker (Orthosia gracilis)  3
73.249  Hebrew Character (Orthosia gothica)  51
73.264  Pale-shouldered Brocade (Lacanobia thalassina)  16
73.267  Bright-line Brown-eye (Lacanobia oleracea)  4
73.271  Broom Moth (Ceramica pisi)  1
73.272  Glaucous Shears (Papestra biren)  1
73.273  Shears (Hada plebeja)  1
73.279  Broad-barred White (Hecatera bicolorata)  2
73.281  Lychnis (Hadena bicruris)  5
73.283  Marbled Coronet (Hadena confusa)  2
73.301  Shoulder-striped Wainscot (Leucania comma)  1
73.317  Heart and Dart (Agrotis exclamationis)  3
73.325  Shuttle-shaped Dart (Agrotis puta)  6
73.328  Flame (Axylia putris)  2
73.329  Flame Shoulder (Ochropleura plecta)  3
73.334  Small Square-spot (Diarsia rubi)  71
74.004  Least Black Arches (Nola confusalis)  13